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The Rutgers Suicide & Online Privacy

The suicide of a Rutgers freshman is raising new questions about privacy, hate crimes, and the Web.

A candlelight vigil for Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi at the Rutgers campus in New Brunswick, N.J., Oct. 3, 2010. (AP)

Tyler Clementi was eighteen years old. He closed the door to his college dorm room and had an intimate encounter. As it happens, it was with another man — and, unknown to Clementi, it was streamed over the Web by his roommate, from down the hall.

Tyler Clementi then killed himself. He jumped off one of the biggest bridges in the country.

Now, his roommate, Rutgers freshmen Dharun Ravi, and Molly Wei, Ravi’s friend, are facing invasion of privacy charges, which could result in up to five years in jail. Should they be charged with a hate crime?

-Tom Ashbrook


Amy Nutt, reporter for the Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J.

Emily Bazelon, legal writer and senior editor at Slate.com and a senior research scholar at Yale Law School. Read her Slate series: “Bull-E 2010: The new world of online cruelty.”

Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, an organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBT students. 

Orin Kerr, law professor at George Washington University who specializes in computer crime law and criminal law.

See Dan Savage’s “It Gets Bettter” Project:

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  • Carol Hewitt

    I teach high school social studies and I am shocked at the lack of sensitivit from my students and the extent to which they just don’t get it when it comes to this issue. The idea of privacy is a foreign concept when it comes to this generation. That is, until it is their privacy we are talking about.

  • Ed

    Religions that discourage homosexuality also condemn any persecution of homosexual persons and any denial of their rights.


    Religions that discourage homosexuality encourage persecution of homosexual persons and deny their rights.

  • John

    Religions that discourage homosexuality also condemn any persecution of homosexual persons and any denial of their rights. – Posted by Ed,

    – This is false. Western Christian groups are trying to make homosexuality a capital offense in several African nations. Islamic nations are particularly hostile. The Catholic and Mormon churches are two of the biggest supporters of denying equal marriage rights to gays. The religious groups that actually condemn prosecution of gays and denial of their rights don’t discourage homosexuality and draw false distinctions.

  • cory

    Six billion of us and counting and an essentially unregulated internet means privacy will be harder and harder to come by. Don’t get me started on police cameras at intersections and being filmed by our employers.

  • Rebecca

    First, I want to say we should not be surprised at the fact that these students posted this intimate interaction online. Look what they have been raised with! Absolutely everything is online now, and there is no sense of privacy or decency anywhere within this technology.

    Second, I would like to ask all the people crying, “Off with their heads!” if they have ever been mean to someone. I know I have (once in middle school I and my friends egged the “new girl’s” house.) It was thoughtless, stupid and immature. Now, I look back in shame and ask myself what I was thinking. Thankfully, she was not a person close to suicide.

    Haven’t we all needed to be forgiven?

  • Sasha Drugikh

    @Carol Hewitt
    Just teach them that anyone who picks on their effete classmates are closet homosexuals themselves. That’ll shut the little brats up.

  • Pancake Rankin

    I think most people have a gay side to their sexuality. What better place to explore it than in college. Experimentation is a way of getting to know yourself. Anyone who is curious should find an attractive partner they can trust and try it out (without medication).
    The spying and teasing is wrong, damnned wrong, but we must also blame our prejudiced and hypocritical culture, as well as families with too strict expectations. I am ambiguous in my sexuality and after about twenty years of practice I have several lovers and am having what I consider a pretty good time. But I can see how the young and tender soul could be shattered by involuntary outing before they were sure of their orientation. There is a sadism involved in sexual identity aggression, and it is predominantly against homosexuals. Assaults of this kind are crimes.

  • michael

    Sad, but i don’t see it as a hate crime. more so a an a$$ thing to do. Don’t let others use this as a chance/excuse to take your rights away.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I was a child in school in the ’50s and ’60s, when we were taught to be thin-skinned. McCarthyism, just as an example, scaring everyone about being labeled (or having been labeled) in any way Red or left-ward leaning, taught us that it is terribly dangerous to be pigeon-holed, rightly or wrongly. Homosexual, Jew, black, alcoholic — on and on, the people you shunned, all the while listening to the show tunes out of South Pacific, “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear” etc. Thankfully, we’ve gotten past a lot of that. Whether shunning or fear of being shunned, we are shedding our thin skin. Look at some of the comedy! I missed the show yesterday on that, but it seems to me we in North America are being trained to “take it” when it comes to mud-slinging of all sorts. On the internet, though, it’s not just “friends” who can access this or that. I noticed the other day that the great search engines in the sky show me as having a second residence in the next city over. The site is telling me how close my residence is to toxic water and polluted air, but in any case, I don’t think there is any way to correct its “information.” And why so? I sort of depend on the slipperiness of the whole thing, the fact it is not the Bible, the OED, the Encyclopedia Britannica. I like the sort of level of deniability, the fact you don’t have to (couldn’t, actually) exactly calibrate a statement to an exact audience. It’s a new thing. You can’t have it both loose and tight.
    So the internet is organic that way; and it seems to me people disconcerted with net hijinks are those who expect/demand purity, whether academic or moral (or political?).
    “Disconcerted.” Hmm. Where is my new thick skin.

  • Zeno

    “Religions that discourage homosexuality also condemn any persecution of homosexual persons and any denial of their rights.” -Ed

    This well known church seems to be the opposite of your statement: http://www.godhatesfags.com/

    Perhaps you should start your fight for “their” rights with the Westboro Baptist church. Mr. Phelps seems as reasonable as any other Christian.

  • Kathryn

    John- There is a difference between the actual religion and religious groups.

  • John

    At least the Phelps cult is honest, instead of hiding behind garbage like “hate the sin love the sinner” and drawing meaningless distinctions between homosexual identity and conduct. They don’t oppose equal rights and then claim not to be bigots.

  • John

    Religious groups define their religion. If there were such a thing as an actual religion, they wouldn’t fight over which version is the actual religion.

  • Ellen Dibble

    NPR broadcast a statement of those six or seven Baptists (Phelps?) who had been protesting homosexuality, leading to the Supreme Court case involving protests of other matters nearby to funerals — that was on Morning Edition today, and he was saying something to this effect: “Because the United States has so many people who practice sodomy, this country is at war,” or “is being ruined.” He said “We know that because of X, then Y.”
    I fault this “religious” reasoning. (a)
    To believe” is very different from “to know.” The words are very different. The causality is a hypothesis, based on a couple of unproven — well, it’s altogether unproven. What is “so many”? Does he have secret video cams all over the world for comparison?

  • Carolyn

    People are not behaving with any semblance of civility or decency. So much human interaction is mediated by ether, behind electronics and waves, and no one has to really own up to what they have done in that medium. Many people find it acceptable to be rude to others, and delight in humiliating their fellow human beings. We should be teaching our kids about the inherent dignity of human beings, and the respect to which all people are entitled.

    There are consequences for actions, and while I am not ponying up for these insensitive, socially-challenged kids to do hard time in jail, they need to to suffer some punishment.

  • Nick B.

    Those kids that invaded that kids’ privacy should go to prison for whatever the maximum sentence and they and their families sued for every penny they have and will ever earn in this life and the next, so that they have to eat chicken bones out of the dumpster behind the 7-11.

  • Tammie Gardner

    Manslaughter is when death occurs from an action(s) that was not intended. Hate would have to be proved, which is difficult. This was a mean and malicious “prank” that resulted in a death. Manslaughter covers that.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Web or no net, bullying/insensitivity among young people has been a big issue in Massachusetts, where a few suicides in the past few years (among high schoolers) has led to lots of public discussion, new approaches in communities and schools, and some legislation.
    It seems to come down to this: adults tend to back off, and leave it to young people to sort things out. For one thing, they (adults) are a bit afraid of being bullied themselves.
    So the social intervention required is for everybody to mind everybody’s business. If you see meanness, call it.
    Another question is really why should two perpetrators be blamed for a society that drove this young man, Tyler, to react the way he did. In a healthier society, the people who would be “in trouble” from the git-go would be the perpetrators, and Tyler would be trying to figure out a discrete way to enlist the school to get these young people to mend their ways. Bridge-jumping would not be anywhere on the set of options.

  • DianeC

    First the school should EXPEL them ASAP !!
    Second their should be serious consequences – like manslaughter! This was not a ‘prank’.. this was seriously mean and hatefull!
    Don’t say it is because of technology.. or that is what the kids learn with all their social media
    MOST young people know right from wrong. It is that simple!

  • Ellen Dibble

    Sorry, a “discreet” way of redirecting those other kids.

  • Rebecca

    This tragedy shows the lack of privacy that is pervasive in our current culture. I sound old when I say this but there is a true difference in what is considered private and public in the 20somethings and younger. A good example is a recent commercial for a camera with video showing a group of girls on the beach who end up video taping an overweight man dancing on the beach. One of girls laughs while videoing him without his knowledge and exclaims something like “oh this is so going to be posted online”. This is illegal in most states.

  • Aaron

    two kids made a bad mistake. this has already ruined one child’s life, and threatens to ruin more if this isn’t kept in perspective.
    why didn’t the other young man kill himself? has anyone thought that the acceptance of homosexuality was lacking in tyler’s home? if he had support for his lifestyle from home, this would have merely been an embarrassing moment, not life defining.

  • Kyle

    This sounds like something pretty typical among students. I know that its a breach of privacy, but I also know that no one ever really has privacy in college. People used to climb ladders into each other’s rooms to mess with them while they were having sex. This happens to heterosexuals too, and I have never heard of anyone commiting suicide over losing their privacy. I think the problem is the assumption that because this happened to a gay person it was a hate crime.

  • jim thompson, fort mill,sc


    If it is shown that because of the fact that this intimate moment was displayed for public consumprtion this young man’s suicide happened then there is no doubt the case can be made that it is a contributing factor. Any reasonable peson should know this.

    I think we’ll find out that this was streamed because of the gay sex. These two folks are truly disgusting human beings.

  • Carolyn

    What about the privacy of Clementi’s partner? Is that an issue?

  • MIke Guay

    I believe that we are missing the larger point here, which has only been glossed over so far. Why did Tyler feel that suicide was his only (and final) option? secondly: Why does our society (families?) hold/foster such a negative view of being gay that this beautiful & talented young man killed himself? These beliefs are taught to our children, they are not born equating being gay with being better off dead.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Are we criminalizing “mean and hateful”?
    If so, the way to short-sheet “mean and hateful” is exactly to invade THEIR privacy, getting involved in late-puberty’s interactions.
    If the broadcast sexual encounter were not homosexual, would it also be such a story? More likely it would be SOLD, anonymously, to some porn producer. Something like that. It seems the presumed attitude of the roommate is the criminal thing. If they were not acting out of meanness and the expectation of Tyler’s upset, then their prankishness would not be criminal.
    Their expectation of his upset? A crime? This bothers me.

  • Ed

    If a wife commits adultery (perhaps illegal in some states) and her husband commits suicide because of it (even having left a note explaining it), does she get prosecuted for murder or manslaughter?

  • Christina

    Tyler asked for privacy and his roommate violated that because he was eager to show how “deviant” his roommate was to others. The fact that Tyler was gay was the reason. Classic bullying – demean/demonize/embarrass the victim.

    It is possible that Tyler didn’t know the full extent (the live-streaming rather than just viewing) until a later time and it pushed him to the edge. I thought that I read that Tyler had gone to the RA and higher ups and nothing was done. I think that being ignored and feeling that the incident would be how he was judged from that point forward was too much for a sensitive kid.

  • Ellen Dibble

    If Tyler had retaliated (in kind?) by videocam’ing the sexual encounters of the offenders, what would we be saying (if we knew)?

  • dan ridout

    What about making nannycam or security cam footage public the recorder of this event was also a resident of this space—how private are your lives and does anyone know who is watching.

  • Steve Cotton

    I just wanted to say 2 things:

    1.) I think that the dialogue about this case is too centered on technology, facebook, privacy, etc. — when the real issue is norms regarding civic and moral behavior. In other words, I think the issue is not questions of privacy, facebook & technology — but rather the question is it that norms today, allow people to act like this? Why do people disrespect others to the extent that takes place today?

    2.) Second, given the information, I personally do not think this is a ‘hate crime’ — but a different type of crime — and perhaps, equally as repulsive. I think the perpetrators were attempting to capitalize socially on humiliating another individual. To me, attempting to capitalize socially by humiliating another speaks extremely poorly of individuals, and both socially & legally we should be aware of this, and stop it using both legal & social means.

  • Teri

    Is this case not very similar to the bullying case in massacusetts? If the kids in mass can be responsible for a suicide and bullying, why not these kids?

  • isaac

    It seems manslaughter and a 1 year misdemeanor are both inappropriate in this case, however I can’t think of a more appropriate time to apply a sex offender designation?

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Orin Kerr is doing a brilliant job of teasing out the legal details of this issue. Makes the rest of us (me included) who have already convicted the two perps seem like the runaway jury in 12 Angry Men.

    The social internet echo chamber seems to be amplifying a lynch mob mentality with cases like this.

  • Ashley

    Is anything known about the other young man? Is there a possibility that distribution of child porn charges could be added?

    Also, the final scenario could have played out if it had been a heterosexual couple too. The publication of such a private moment could be mortifying to anyone. These 2 need to be punished.

  • http://none Ken Cochran

    A question I’ve had from the beginning: could Clementi not have been able to survey his room for a recording device (a webcam in this case) and cover or otherwise disable it? This in no way makes the crime makes the crime less heinous (he shouldn’t have had to).

  • Gary

    It seems that the law is saying that the severity of the effect determines the quality of the act. This makes sense in many situations, primarily those where the probability of a certain outcome is high. But where the probability of a particular outcome is low or unknown, perhaps this should not be the case.

    An easier case is drunk driving. A conviction absent an accident carries a much smaller punishment than does a conviction with a serious accident, death resulting. But in both cases, the actions of the perpetrators (drunk driving) and their states of mind are exactly the same.

    (My own point of view is that the punishment for simple drunk driving is too low.)

    Just an observation.

  • Beth Weinberg

    The best punishment for the boy and girl who broadcasted the video on the internet- they should be sentenced to going to a college every weekend for the next 10 years to give a lecture about how not observing internet privacy and not being sensitive to gay rights could lead to tragedy.

  • Edward

    Can you clarify two pieces of the story which I have heard:

    Was the video posted and shown on YouTube?

    Is Tyler’s suicide the 3rd suicide of a gay person at this college in the past year?

  • Joseph Rice

    As obnoxious (to put it mildly) as their behavior was, I do not believe trying to shoehorn their action into a charge (which will probably not hold up, even if it makes it to court), or making bad law in the heat of the moment, it would be better to make more measured laws to accomodate the new technology.

    As for punishment in this case, I think the punishment will be taken care of through the same means they committed the act: this information will never be erased, and for the rest of their lives any Google search by acquaintances or employers will resurrect this. Live by the internet, die by the internet.

  • jim thompson, fort mill,sc

    Tom: Isn’t there a principle of law that says reasonable people should be able to know the probability or potential results from an action they take. Isn’t it clear to anyone that these folk’s actions could probably or potential lead to emotional distress up to and including suicide?

  • Ellen Dibble

    The Massachusetts prosecutions of the bullies in the Phoebe Prince case are now under way. It was an issue in a political campaign when a new district attorney was elected, whether it was going overboard for the DA to prosecute. So we get to find out the sad story of the way kids try to get under each other’s skin, the way they try to shame people, make them feel like outsiders. A thrown empty soda can will turn into a piece of evidence; so watch out what you do.

  • Austin

    This was a college prank with terrible but unintended consequences. The punishment should be based on intent. Privacy was invaded, but these two did not kill the victim.

  • Greg

    We are all still learning how to behave in this brave new world of privacy (or lack of it). Where a situation might have been embarrassing in the past, known about by a small group of people who could only push it as far as they were determined, the same situation now gets published to the world forever. I can understand how Clemente could not accept this fact, as he hadn’t yet accepted his own sexuality.

    Forget about manslaughter charges though. Clemente magnified his shame and transferred it all to Wei and Ravi. The same (un)private world that led Clemente to suicide will punish these two for some time to come. I would be willing to bet that this experience turns Wei and Ravi into activists.

  • Julie Ross

    Please keep in mind that covert web-broadcasting has become a part of our culture–via teen movies like ‘American Pie.’ These students might not have been thinking “hate crime” as much as “funny practical joke.”

  • Caroline

    surprised that this act comitted by Ravi, son of Indian subcontinent parents.
    What happened to the beautiful kind Hindu/Buddist/Sikh cultures?
    Note also Nikki Haley, running for gov. here in SC, daughter of subcontinent immigrants, also uncaring.

  • Joe Higgns

    If Robbie and May are to be held responsible for Clement’s suicide, should not a person whose ex lover be responsible if being dumped led to suicide?

  • chuck

    Tragic, what about the partner. Perhaps he may have had a reaction that ma have contributed to it.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    The charge of hate crime criminalizes motive, but that’s just as much a violation of privacy as what the two students did. What goes on in my mind and in my private life is my business. If I do a bad act, then that act must be punished. Why did I do it? That may be a matter for the police, since they use motive in their investigation to find the criminal, but that’s it.

  • Cara

    The perpetrators in this case should definitely be charged with invading Tyler’s privacy, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. (Can you think of a greater invasion of someone’s privacy than broadcasting images of them having sex?) I also think there are adequate grounds for charging them with a hate crime, as the messages the two sent out made it clear that they regarded his homosexuality as a reason to harass him. And it is highly probable that the despair Tyler felt as a result of this violation was at least a contributor to his decision to commit suicide.

    As much as I would like to see the perpetrators held responsible for their role in his death, though, I doubt that manslaughter or murder charges can be made. The prosecutors should focus their efforts on the privacy and hate crime charges.

  • Cathy Etheridge

    I enjoy listening to On Point and I marvel at how well prepared Tom Ashbrook is every day. However, in this case, I think there should be some discussion of the freshman orientation conducted by Rutgers Univeristy. Sensitive issues surrounding asking a roommate to make himself scarce for several hours should be discussed. I think Dharun Ravi was presented with a situation that he was not prepared for. If it is college policy that students can ask their roommates to temporarily give up their partial ownership of the room, then the same college should prepare the students for issues surrounding such a request. I think it doesn’t matter if the roommate requesting the privacy is gay or straight, it might make the other roommate uncomfortably confronted with issues regarding his own sexuality, that he is unprepared to confront.

  • http://www.seasonsdesigngroup.com Bailey

    Eye for an eye, leaves the world blind.

    These two kids that recorded this, are young people that shouldn’t be sent off to prison that will probably culminate more negative results.

    These two kids should spend time on a community service such as teaching others the importance of being careful about others, social media and the use of technology. This would be more beneficial to them and the world.

  • Ellen Dibble

    A caller is talking about depression, its link to suicide, presuming Tyler was depressed. It seems to me depression, if it is a factor, puts Tyler in a mean light himself. Let me rephrase that. If he was suicidal, then he would have a sort of insulation from a lot of the buffeting around him (IMHO). But he could see that if he had “had it” with a mean world that did not accept gay men, he could put a permanent scar on the career of his perpetrating roommate by jumping off the George Washington bridge.
    Look at the results. Follow the cause and effect. A much longer-lasting “bullet” is landing on the ones who did the video-camming.

  • Robert

    The tragic case may not be a legal issue apart from privacy violations, but it is certainly an ethical issue. An undeniable truth of life: freedom requires responsibile behavior and irresponsible behavior eventually costs freedom.

  • Gary

    Please – let us keep in mind that Clemente’s murderer was Clemente.

  • Marie

    It’s time to re-think the laws covering Internet Service Providers in order to protect the privacy of individuals engaged in everyday and/or private activities.

  • Sarah S

    I can’t help wondering what would have happened if Tyler had been straight, or a straight girl? When I was a freshman in college (as a straight girl) this would have been horrifying to me — not to detract from the fact that maybe it motivated by homophobia… just wondering how anyone would deal with this. Especially a young, person, insecure in their freshman status.

  • Hayyim

    You’re all being so careful to emphasize how much we don’t know, but unless you and your guests have some basic information that they’ve neglected to share with us, you are all sharing your own entirely speculative assumption that Tyler was gay. Two same-sex sexual encounters – especially during the first few weeks of college and probably his first few weeks away from his family home – do not constitute a sexual identity or orientation as gay, and you all ought to know that.

  • Derek Perez

    The statement “ooo he’s gay” implies the perpetrator is simply immature. What about holding the parents responsible for negligence.

  • Stacy

    This is surly a terrible tragedy. However, the public does not have enough information to decide what the punishment should be here. Where are Tyler’s parents; what are they saying? Where is Tyler’s partner from the video; what is his feeling about the the video taping? What was the intent of the video, was it further distributed after the fact?
    There are simply not enough facts to decide what the punishment SHOULD be for the perpetrators of the video taping.

  • jennie

    Until we address the lack of common decency, respect towards others that is rampant in our society,(and manifests in an unhealthy manner on the various internet communication choices) these terribly tragic and uneccessary losses and situations will continue. A strong and hard – hitting example should be made of the two that chose to violate Tyler on so many levels.

  • Hayyim

    (continuing) Your imposition of a sexual definition on Tyler, unless it is one he himself embraced, is no less than a posthumous furthering of the harassment he endured in life.

  • achit

    It is a tragedy that a young man lost his life, a life so young was cut short. Tragic that he did not feel he had any other way to deal with this issue.
    In our zeal to find a solution most of the people are harping on other two young people in this situation. We don’t have all the facts out but they have been branded ‘murderers’.
    All of them young, experimenting with living alone in a mix of other young people. Learning in a world where every other day there is ‘leaked sex tape’, p*rn is available with a click of a button and information travel at the speed of light. It is an old cliché but true ‘I experimented in college’.
    How do we know that what was going on? It could have been a prank gone wrong. An attempt by other two to fit in the hierarchy of college students.
    Could be many things?

    ** In our political correct society, I wonder would we have this much coverage in media if the person who died was non-gay?

  • Oded

    In reality, there ain’t no privacy even if it’s enshrined as a legal principle. This case is old hat, with a small technological update.

    Look at the revenge(?) videos of ex-GFs available on the web: at least some were made clandestinely.

    Consider the job of a PI, sent to photograph a spouse, person worth blackmailing, or a political, business or personal opponent in flagrante.

    Consider the jobs of reporters, who (with or without video evidence) expose the acts of persons—of—interest, like Strom Thurmond’s mulatto child.

    Roll back to Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, where the lady is merely purportedly seen in an inappropriate encounter, and her death becomes a societal obligation. (It’s possible that other pieces of literature have explored similar themes).

    Stick to invasion of privacy. Let the New Jersey Attorney General (www.state.nj.us/oag/) handle the details and corrections. It is intellectually dishonest and morally bankrupt to highjack an act of cruelty as a vehicle for one’s personal agenda.

  • Cassie

    I don’t want to defend the roommate at all — but just want to ask, is this really bullying? It seems like a fine line between a poorly conceived practical joke and bullying — in many bullying cases I’ve heard about the bullies are responsible for aggressive and cruel taunts both online, in person etc. it’s not clear from the little I’ve heard about this that these two were in a bullying mindset. Just a thought. Remember also some of the foolish things you did when you were 18 that could have turned out much worse. I certainly lacked maturity at that age.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    He’s having sex with a dude–can’t we see how that’s immaturity, but not hate? Ravi didn’t use any language that implies that he dislikes gay men. He did exactly what children do; he pointed and snickered.

    What this incident shows is that we’re not teaching children how to be adults.

  • John

    In our political correct society, I wonder would we have this much coverage in media if the person who died was non-gay? – Posted by achit,

    – How many non-gays have been targeted in this way and killed themselves as a result? Any story of suicide, new media, sex, and loss of privacy would be sensational. I don’t think lack of media attention is the issue. Harassment of gays is.

  • Julie Rohwein

    On the legal questions, it seems that there is not (yet) sufficient information in the public domain to know what charges should be beyond invasion of privacy, although as several people have pointed out, more investigation is clearly warranted. I was struck by a comment made in passing by Prof. Kerr about the internet serving as a force multiplier. I know that in the law concerning assault, for example, there are degrees of severity, and using a “force multiplier” (ie a gun or a knife) results in a more severe charge with a concomitantly stronger punishment. In this case, the harm begins with the privacy invasion, but the streaming onto the net and then notifying others that this is available via Twitter should be a more severe violation of the law, as assault with a deadly weapon is more severe than simple assault.

    Not a lawyer…just wondering.

  • Nicole

    Has anyone bothered to consider the future effect on a young classical musician’s life of having the carnal aspects of his life displayed for international consumption? From a marketing standpoint, how might he ever look a future employer in the face? His career, like it or nor, fair or not, is over. He knew it. In his mind, his life was ruined, regardless of his sexual orientation. How does a classical musician hide from such notoriety? How might he ever present himself as a serious person or musician again? And in so doing, how does a 19 year old hope to reconcile himself to NOT ever again doing the one thing he has mastered and loved?Undoubtedly, the pranksters were not considering the life-changing implications of their joke. Why should they have? They would not be wrong to point out that roommates and friends of college age have been pulling “draw back the curtain” pranks on each other since time immemorial. What HAS changed is the actual audience, and the lack of forthought. Whereas we might have opened the door on a tyrst, or put a humourous picture on a bulliten board for a day, NO one would have even considered running the story on AP, Reuters, BBC, or CNN. This would have been seen as the sign of psychopathy.
    I don’t know what posseses these thoughtless, reckless morons — but their parents failed to raise decent humans. And this publication or other people’s lives must stop. It’s simply wrong.

  • Ellen Dibble

    People, young AND older, do what they have to in order to find out “what happens when he/she gets hit?” In what manner does he/she hit back? I think we all do this in one way or another to find out where the other person’s backbone is located. Do they cry for their mommy? Do they run to the RA? Do they ignore you?
    The subtext for the Tyler story is that it misfired, and therefore none of us should be testing out each other at all. Go tell that to Alexander the Great, who at 16 was out winning battles.
    I am probably a counter-example to the rule of everybody gets bullied along the way. I was extremely vulnerable, and I guess “everybody” figured this out right away. I must have been uniformly shielded. Maybe I was plain ostracized to the degree I wasn’t part of the game. I know when I was in my 40s, I was at a dinner with about 40 people, given in a distant city for a group of people who worked for the same enterprise. We were at four long tables in a square, like the knights of King Arthur’s Court. And a clown had been paid to entertain us, and apparently was plying his trade right behind me. Someone across the table kindly signaled me, “You’re being made a fool of.” She apparently thought it rose to the level where I should be offended and retaliate, sort of show off my ego and counter-tease the clown. Well, I know now that would be the better response. Except that the clown was behind me, and I couldn’t see what was happening. So I kept eating. It’s possible the clown had defined me for the entire party, and I was never seen the same way again. In fact, I wasn’t given much more work, and ended up running my own business. But… Had Tyler never known about the video, he never would have had a chance to make a big statement about what he thought of such clowning. I still think if he was so talented, and if he was gay, and if he had been tormented about being gay long enough to have a firm opinion about homophobia, then he certainly succeeded in getting the issue very hotly on the national agenda. Sometimes young people are very insightful and very determined.

  • Roberto

    Wow, some very good remarks — Robert’s regarding responsible behavior, Cara’s, Carolyn’s (10:09), and Ellen D’s several comments. A “prank” perhaps, but some very devious (devilish?!) thinking behind it. Pay the Piper, “kids”! To me, this is a huge invasion of privacy and they were either really stupid or really mean-hearted. They meant to hurt, and they succeeded, no matter how badly Tyler’s psyche was, or whether his family life set him up for this. If those two goons have any conscience, they will pay for their ugly actions all of their lives, on top of whatever punishment our laws bestow.

    Rutgers: First, those involved need to “take a year off” at a minimum. They need to grow up and reflect on their actions. Personally, unless I saw some incredible redemption, as the Dean of Admissions, I would not ask them back, anyway, but… Second, I know these large state schools play an important role in the ed. hierarchy, but they are way too big and poorly managed. It is virtually impossible to inculcate true “community” tho am sure they try; too many “degrees” granted in these cess pools of adolescent behavior (think “Zoo Mass”) and most of the “students” are not serious at all. Sadly, these diploma mills are a v. big % of US college student experiences nowadays and me thinks Asia will rapidly outclass us on the higher ed front.

    Perhaps it is time to consider more of a British system which separates the serious from the immature, earlier. In the UK, if you don’t “produce” by 10th/11th grade, you are redirected to the vocational branch of the learning tree. US Community Colleges might be much better place for those who don’t deserve more serious educational investments? They will quickly see among fellow students there that many work jobs AND go to college. Much less horseplay and partying on campuses. Or just make the HS so-so performers slave away a few years in the work force and see if they figure it out on their own? Maybe then we would have better quality products instead of importing so much of our basic white goods and higher end products?

    Would save a bundle on US Pell Grants, Loan defaults, (kickbacks to college finanical aid officers?!) and unwarranted state school investments (our tax dollars at work!!). Maybe people will realize the tradeoffs and work harder to be successful, earlier. As a parent, I am making the very hard decision to tell my last kid that he has not yet earned the right to a leafy college campus — he either takes out the loans himself or work

  • John

    Most state universities are not diploma mills or unwarranted investments. UMass, Amherst and Rutgers are excellent schools.

  • Diana

    There is a huge amount of work to do with children and teens around tolerance and differences. But what is missing from this conversation is a focus on what parents and schools must step up to in terms of educating children and teens about the dangers of online social networking. Smart kids are typically much more saavy about devices and apps than their parents. But they must be protected from themselves — ie, just because a website will permit you to upload a video doesn’t mean you should be doing it. These kids obviously didn’t take seriously the Rutgers policy on privacy that they undoubtably signed. What motivated them? Well, hate, for one thing. But also ignorance of the law.

  • Cathy

    The parent of all 3 students are to blame:
    1) Tyler Clementi’s parents for not creating the “loving” environment that would allow him to live an openly gay lifestyle.
    2) Dharun Ravi’s & Molly Wei’s parents for inadequately teaching them to practice the “Golden Rule,” i.e. “Do unto others as ye would have them do unto you.”

  • mary abramson

    This is a hate crime because the victim was targeted. Bullying and harassment always seems to be tolerated. The bullies of today (of any age) need to face punishment. These bullies are lucky the victim didn’t turn homicidal before turning suicidal. Mary

  • John

    The parent of all 3 students are to blame:
    1) Tyler Clementi’s parents for not creating the “loving” environment that would allow him to live an openly gay lifestyle. – Posted by Cathy

    – Where is the evidence for this? Impulsively blaming the victim’s parents is hardly compassionate. The violators of Tyler’s privacy were college students/legal adults not children. They are responsible for their poor choices not their parents.

  • Linda

    What is the story of the other man that was video-taped? Did his and Tyler’s relationship get damaged from this event? Might the relationship be a factor in Tyler’s suicide?

  • Heather

    It seems to me that existing laws do not take into account the multiplying force that posting on the internet creates. Perhaps what we need is to consider making a new law that says posting something on the internet ought to be considered an agrivating factor (much the same as commiting a robbery with a gun is agrivated by the use of the gun,)with more time in jail added to the base sentence. That way, even if we can’t prove a hate crime or prove a direct cause and effect link between this type of privacy invasion and the young man’s death, we can still send a very strong message as a society that this kind of thing is worse than a minor college prank, and that the punishment should be a real deterant.

  • Rob

    This comment is a is little bit “off topic”, but I take issue with the comment or implication that most public universities are “diploma mills”. Would you include the University of Virginia, University of Michigan, and others in this definition? While I would never knock anyone for attending the elite Ivy League schools, some of the better public unversities are a good alternative to many people with financial concerns. In New York, SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Albany, and SUNY Geneseo are all examples of public universities with excellent programs in many disciplines, including sicience, economics, business, political science, etc….

    While there are certain organizations who hire people only from the Ivies, these are the exception rather than the rule. On a personal level, I take great pride in my undergraduate degree from a very good public university. I am not treated any differently at the global consultin/professional services firm where I work as a partner than my other partners who have undergraduate degrees from the Ivies. I would have the same comment regarding a small business I own with other partners (which does not compete with my primary employer).

    While I will always ask politicans to be disciplined regarding spending and want limited government at the federal level, I do understand the need for a strong educational system, which is primarily a state and local government responsibility in the US.

  • Rob

    I will leave the decision regarding whether this was a crime and the appopriate punishmnet to oue legal system, but any self respecting human being would not invade someone’s personal space in this manner. On another note, I agree with earlier comments that our society needs to stop treating gays and lesbians as second class citizens. A combination of looking at the empirical research into human sexuality and basic common sense demonstrates human sexuality is not a choice and is basic condition of nature.

  • Ben

    I think this sanctimonious demonization of the kid who posted this private moment is a both a red herring and a smoke screen.

    Yes it was a horrible invasion of privacy. Yes it was reprehensible in the extreme. But if the kid hadn’t commited suicide, would we even know or care about this video at all? Would he have even commited suicide if he lived a world where being openly gay was generally accepted and respected lifestyle?

    Imagine if they kid was caught in bed with a girl and that video was put on the web. Would he have killed himself? Would we even be having be having this conversation?

    The kid didn’t commit suicide because his privacy was violated. He did it because it meant his sexuality was made public domain. Ergo, all the people he was afraid of knowing he was gay would now know: his parents, his family, and his friends. What reaction could he have feared from the people that really mattered?

    Isn’t that the greater crime? That he couldn’t live openly and discover his sexuality in a world free from bigotry and judgement? That he believed his only alternative was to end it all rather than face the judgement of the world as who he truly was?

  • Ellen Dibble

    People who think homosexuality is a lifestyle choice must be basing it on their own experience (there are some homosexuals who point out they’ve swung this way or that, and I believe research tells us there is a continuum, with everybody some percent resonating with heterosexual, some percent resonating with homosexual; but generally people zero in on their “true nature” and feel safe and whole one way or the other).
    So I tend to think of homophobic people as struggling to come to terms with their own homosexual percent, however small it is. “Look how hard I struggled to repress my own ‘appreciation’ for people of my own gender! Was that all a waste? Was it a necessary loss to the fullness of my own being? No, no; everyone has to go through the same painful process of learning to be macho to the max.” Something like that. The more you think homosexuality is a “choice,” the more likely there is a sense of choice in your own genetic makeup, IMHO.
    As to big state universities, if you want to feel the full embrace of a university community, make reference to family who are attending the same. All of a sudden, the whole room full of professionals, paraprofessionals, or businesspeople will think of you, from that moment on, as a person right on their same page. The judges all went there. The local developers all went there. They themselves went there, or at least could have.
    The same individual, waving a degree from the local $40,000-a-year college, will get a polite but cold shoulder; such graduates and their relatives are visitors, “not like us.” You live it down by sending your own children to the local diploma-mill. If you know what you’re doing, you can get the education you need there (maybe not without a few years of floundering around first, which is less costly if you’re working during those wandering years rather than pretending to know which way you’re going, at any school).

  • D. Taylor

    I do not believe that all religions and persons practicing those religions that condemn homosexualtiy in fact encourage the persecution of homosexuals. I would be considered to be a Southern Baptist which teaches that homosexuality is not necessarily consistent with scripture but above all God cause for love and that love means even treating outsiders with care and respect. Its not religious doctrine that promotes this anti-homosexual stance, its miseducated people that encourage the persecution of people with differences.

  • D. Taylor

    I do not believe that the younger generation has a different view on what is private to a person and what is not. In this day of technology, recorded activities and information can be so easily dissimenated to the masses. Its not that young people have a different view on privacy because all understand and hope others would respect their privacy, it really amounts to the difference on respecting the privacy of others.

    In this case, it is clear that the student-offenders performed this foul act because they knew the man would be involved in a homosexual encounter, that fact made it more worthy to be viewed and joked about. The roommate likely knew the man was closeted or discreet about his homosexuality and that is likely what really fueled the act, to embarrass him on the fact that he was a closeted homosexual. That is what makes the incident so hateful.

    Moreover, this situation brings to light the subject of open and closeted homosexuals. Many people feel that a person owes the world an obligation to be open about their sexuality and other private affairs. Even open homosexuals can be seen being hateful towards persons who chose not to be open about their sexuality, no matter their reason. Hopefully in this information age and from this incident we can begin to understand that we do not have the right to know all about a person, definitely when you have no direct relationship or cause to know all. Respect a person’s life, privacy, and their discretions.

  • Don

    I agree with Linda. I waited all through the show hoping to hear something about “the dude,” how he reacted, how he felt about Tyler’s suicide and what punishment, if any, he thinks is appropriate

  • Mary Murphy

    As unfortunate as it was that the college students chose to violate a classmate’s privacy, I do not think it should be called a “hate crime” , as there was no way that the reaction of the unwitting actors could have been predicted. There are no reports that the partner of this college student felt driven to take his life nor is this extreme of humiliation necessarily to be expected. So much depends on the person-I am sure that many heterosexual people would be devastated to be exposed in this level of intimacy-for that matter, there are many things people do when they are alone that would be extremely embarrassing if broadcast.

    Sometimes it seems to me that we are too quick to call things “hate crimes” when they are just old-fashioned stupidity. If this had been a heterosexual encounter that led to one of the people involved to commit suicide rather than face parents, friends or classmates it would probably not have made the news.

    There should be punishment for the perpetrators to bring home the messsage that there are some things that can’t be tolerated, no matter what technology allows.

  • http://www.beccar.wordpress.com Eugenia Renskoff

    Hi, Tom, I know from personal experience how cruel kids can be. Tyler’s death never should have happened. The people who taped him should be severely punished and made an example so that this does not happen again. Eugenia Renskoff

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    Marge Simpson: “Kids can be so cruel.”
    Bart Simpson: “We can? Thanks, Mom!”
    Lisa Simpson: “Oww!”

    And so it goes. I doubt if there is an “epidemic” of bullying; like most bad behaviors, it is probably just getting more media attention than usual. That said, the internet does make it possible to vastly multiply the humiliation suffered by a victim. This multiplication of humiliation needs to be factored in somehow.

    Is it a “hate crime”? I don’t know … how often is an evil act an “indifference crime”?

  • Jennifer

    I think this was an invasion of privacy and very much a bias crime. I would even ask if perhaps the perpetrators, who come from a school with a majority Asian population, may have been if not consciously then subconsciously, racially motivated. In his color and his sexual orientation, Tyler Clementi was the other to Ravi and Wei. and as victims of racism know, racially motivated attacks can’t take place without that mindset–it’s easier to hurt an outsider.

  • Hannah

    I think that society should be charged with a hate crime, not these two students. Tyler’s suicide highlights the insidious homophobia that still exists today, and the pain, fear, isolation, and shame that gay people still experience, especially young people in the height of self identity formation. This is one more example of why we need to strike down Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and overturn the unconstitutional laws and rulings that ban same-sex marriage.


    To the Rutger’s suicide. I believe these boys shared a dorm room. So I question is this really an invasion of privacy, can you invade your own space?

  • Richard Johnston

    Loath as I am to credit Yahoo! comments, there was a remark there the other day that rang true with me: the writer observed that this is what happens when you raise children on reality TV. Although I find that form of entertainment inane and boring, I suspect that many young people today have greater difficulty delineating the border between private and public behavior than I do.

    Pending more evidence, I don’t think the two perpetrators were wilfully malicious, they were merely mischievous in their minds, but the outcome was unacceptable and anti-social. It’s not as much a matter of “new technology” as it is of new types of what passes for entertainment. Broadcasting a roommate having sex is not my idea of entertainment, but it clearly is that to many young people. I think a 1-hour seminar in public and private behavior, and respect for the latter, would have prevented this crime.

  • Richard Johnston

    To set Joel Oster straight: Rutgers’ dorm rules require a roommate to ask formally that the other roommate vacate the room because the former is having a guest. Clementi respected this rule, the perpetrators violated at least the spirit of it by not respecting his privacy.

  • Gosia

    This tradegy also brings to mind the larger issue of BULLYING that seems to be prevalent in American schools. THe due attention and hopefully adequate punishment of this particular act would carry an educational message for bullies or would-be bullies of all ages, especially kids. It might prevent many incidents of bullying of all kind, by making kids think twice before they harrass their peers.

  • Marina

    My question is, what were this young man’s options to stop this situation?
    He could not have stopped what was already out about his private life, but did he have any resources or help available to protect himself for the future, or to bring these bullies to a situation where they’d be held accountable?
    I think that is an important question for Rutgers, or society at large.

  • Hy

    Come on! The young man was clearly unprepared to make his homosexuality public. The fact that it was revealed, clearly and deliberately against his will, is certainly unconscionable, but also so damaging to the basic equanimity and normalcy of his every day life, I do believe it should seriously be considered that the actions of those common and hateful students precipitated his suicide and thus they should be prosecuted for manslaughter, in addition to the invasion of privacy charges. I think it would not be impossible, perhaps not even a serious obstacle, to proving the cause and effect of their acts to that young man’s death. I think it’s very likely those students did not expect Mr. Clementi to end up dead, but their actions certainly led up to his death and I believe they should be held to account accordingly. To ignore their culpability in his death is to give tacit approval to their actions and the hateful behavior of various others who cause people to end up dead.

  • marcia gottlieb

    I think one of the major problems in our society today is that people know no bounds.

    Not only is there a lack of respect and responsibility, but there seems to be no boundary, both for teens and 20-somethings as well as well as older adults. Even penalties, when imposed, are ignored. A perfect example is those who drive with suspended licenses.

    Another,perhaps more pertinent example, is Carl Paladino, one of the men running for governor of New York. He accused the present attorney general of having had an affair while married, and then proclaimed that he had no proof of that but wanted to get attention. He also emailed cartoons and sees nothing wrong with that because he merely forwarded them. In other words, he was not the source. That does not make it okay.

    Our perception of right and wrong seems to have been derailed.

  • Al Richter

    Regarding responsibility for Clemente’s suicide, if a person commits rape and the victim commits suicide immediately or within days, if during a robbery a victim has a heart attack and dies, if a group of assailants chase a man who runs onto a highway and is killed by a car, is there not criminal responsibility for the death even though that was not intended by the perpetrator? I think there is. Al Richter

  • Slipstream

    This is a sad atory, and I do sympathize with all those involved. But sadly, there has been very little discussion of Clementi’s mental health, and no comment from his family and friends (that I saw). Killing yourself because you have been teased and humiliated IS NOT normal and does not indicate a healthy psyche. I have been teased and humiliated at times myself, and the thought of taking my life did not cross my mind. Throwing away your own life is not a good way to get even with people. Tyler is having his revenge – but he has no life left to enjoy it with. And as the program points out, no one is sure at this point why he chose to put an end to things.

    I hope that this will not result in a rush to judgement against those college kids who videoed him. They probably did not like him, but it is unlikely they wanted to drive him to suicide. I do not agree with what those kids did, and they deserve to be reprimanded for it, or forced to leave their dorm or something, but I cannot see how jail time is called for in this case. Even worse, I hope this will not result in more legislation by headline, a “Tyler’s Law” of some kind that will criminalize all sorts of behavior, that while stupid and unpleasant, should not be criminal. Why are there so few people standing up for freedom of expression in America today? It seems that these days everyone wants the government to come down on those who say and do things that they find offensive. This is not a healthy trend.

  • joshua

    I have read all the comments here. Good points made by all. I agree. This child would not have committed suicide if it was a girl in his bed–it would have made him a hero (at the girl’s expense, and unheard, ignored grievance). He committed suicide because of societies cruel hateful intolerance of same-sex relationships. Consider, thirty or forty years ago, the couple is a black man and a white woman–she would be harassed and alienated, hated, and he would by lynched or charged with rape and locked up in prison for life.

    The issue here i about intolerance–not necessarily the boy who committed the invasion crime, but society at large–is warped and inhumane. Intolerance breeds hate, homicide, and suicide. We see it in the military everyday. Homosexuals harassed, beaten, killed, dishonorably discharged, and the same racial argument is used–gays disrupt cohesion. They said that about blacks, and women…

    Its not true. The disruption is the small minds of intolerance who need to be reformed or not included. We should no longer tolerate intolerant people in schools, workplacs, military, firms, government, etc.

    As far as the privacy issue–the invasion of our personal lives has gone way too far. We spy on each other–made easy with photo-phones, and pc-cams…and the gov. has abolished the bill of rights making it their dirty obligation to spy on everyone–everyone–prying into your homes, your library, and now they use backscatter x-ray machines in unmarked vans–sweeping whole neighborhoods, homes–without your knowledge–scanning you–watching you, seeing into your bedroom…and scan you on the highway prying into your vehicle–dolling out heavy does of cancer for all. And you can do nothing about it. The sick part is nobody cares enough–we all seem so content to live out the nightmare of 1984.

  • Jon

    The synopsis at the top of the page is DELIBERATLY misleading. Clementi did not jump off a bridge immediately after learning that the video had been aired, as this article IMPLIES. My understanding is several days passed between the actual videotaping (and simultaneous live stream) and his suicide.

    It is very much a mystery what was the catalyst for Clementi to take his own life.

    I have a guess (not based on anything I’ve read, just a suspicion)… perhaps his lover wanted to break it off, and that rejection pushed him over the edge. But I don’t know. I wasn’t there.

    The truth is… there are any number of reasons why Clementi might have taken his own life. I find it very, very interesting that Gay advocates are always trying to normalize this lifestyle, trying to sell this notion that gay people should be entitled to the same rights as others… Well, guess what!? Here we have a young man (Clementi) who – for whatever reason – opts to take his own life, and immediately the gay advocates are crying VICTIM! They can’t see past his sexuality. To them, he is merely a poster-child for gay victimization.

    To me, he’s a young man, subject to all the mood swings, and turmoils, and ups and downs that the rest of us have to go through. You know… a three-dimensional HUMAN BEING with strengths and weaknesses and insecurities just like the rest of us. But you ask the folks from GLSEN or CODE PINK or any of these LGBT GROUPS, and all you’ll hear is – Clementi was another victim of gay-bashing.

    That MAY be true, but the facts do not yet bear that out. Let us not presume to have all the facts when we don’t…. for the mere purpose of politicizing something that should not be made political!

  • joshua

    Slipstream–videoing a person without his knowledge is a crime–a violation of the constitution really, and then to broadcast it over the internet–this is a serious crime. The peeping tom voyeur boy is a criminal–a harm to society. We penalize peeping toms in trees. Why can’t you see technology used in this way as a crime? At the very very very least –it is monstrous gossip, and ill-mannered, unacceptable. This attitude that it is okay to invade my privacy for your enjoyment or your precious unwarranted security is nonsense and criminal and impolite. The cell generation is a mob of seething monstrous inconsiderate drones with little sense of humanity. They cant even unplug for five minutes without withdrawals. A sick society. All pcs should be banned from dorm rooms–compensate by putting community pcs in abundance throughout communal areas in dorm buildings and on campus. And the peeping tom should be expelled, serve jail time for up to six months, and be forced to do community service on campus and in the local town with a giant V or a P on his back (V for voyeur, and P peeping tom). Shame is a valuable lesson in humility and empathy. perhaps he can reconnect with society by seeing the harm he has had on others. His service should be with other victims of intolerance and injustice.

    Slipstream–you talk about “a trend” of things that offend. I dont know about that–there hve always been prisses and religious quakes offended by blue jeans and skirts and language or literature but we are talking about bullying, intolerance, sinister invasion of privacy…would you tolerate a sick naked man flashing your toddlers? Should we not be offended by that? Would you tolerate gang rape? Should we not be offended? Would you tolerate videotaping your daughter or yourself on the toilet or masturbating (secure in the belief that you are alone) and then having it broadcast to the world? Should we tolerate that? is it not offensive? Should we have no realm of privacy? is nothing indecent? I think you should unplug Slipstream. its time to come back to the real world–its full of human beings, not just bytes and gigabytes.

  • joshua

    Jon–get over yourself. Two days later, two weeks–what’s the differrence–there is obviosly a connection. And it is related to his sexuality–not just his invasion of privacy. Yeah, he may have had other issues, but the spark could have been avoided with a little more comapassion and humanity. You lack any compassion at all. Do you have no empathy for suicide–whatever the reason? I sense that you would encourage his suicide. Standing up for gay rights is baout human rights and tolerance–not about homosexuality. You–YOU– have no right to determine how anyone should think or behave or live (as long as that person respects your equal right to humanity). The boy certainly did not commit a hate crime, but the intolerance of society and your mentality lead this young man, not fully formed and confident–to see no alternative. A little compassion and acceptance would prevented this death. Next time–it might e a shooting and then you will be on sight crying from my cold dead hands granting him rights to murder (and dismissing his homosexuality).

  • joshua

    Your guest speaking of the boy tweeting on line with a level head–guessing at what happened in-between is not very bright–she makes it sound as if what we write online, the tone, can be taken as concrete evidence of how we are feeling. She seems a product of the text age, unfamiliar with human emotion. Blogs and text messages can not accurately convey emotion. His tweets should be construed as a cry for help–in hindsight. When people are driven to right something, in a letter, a book or online, it something that deeply effects them or they wouldn’t have taken the time to write about it.

  • joshua

    Laws are meant to protect people in society, to foster a sense of community and equality. I think bullying laws are appropriate and much needed. This is a criminal act. He should be charged with distributing child pornography, bullying, and privacy invasion. He should do community service, not expelled, but be forced to live off campus, fined large sums, loose all dorm privileges so that his being there on site is trespassing (like a restraining order), and he should be jailed up to three months.

  • joshua

    I think the point about reality TV and acceptable social behavior is endemic of a larger problem–and an intrusive government. We are being conditioned to accept constant oversight–full spectrum dominance–from our peers, technology, gov, work, school, etc. We are watching you–big brother.

  • http://none Sam T.

    Come on Tom Ashbrook and NPR. Let us not glorify this suicide victim, since the young man was participating in fornication, whether straight or gay, which is sex outside marriage. That is NOT a folk hero. It is sad that he killed himself and we should be sad about that alone and nothing else. Suicide is also another violation of our Judeo/Christian heritage.
    As for the illegal recording of this event, the folks who did that should be arrested for recording an event without the permission of the persons involved. Other than that, let us stop glamorizing this guy.

  • http://none sam

    Give me a break. The comments from the PRO GAY network to make the illegal recording of this a crime leading to extreme punishment is complete hypocrisy.
    Where are the liberals when there are THOUSANDS of murderers in cities killing people and the same liberals do NOT want them executed or claim the killer is a victim of society, and therefore justified. To make this suicide victim some sort of innocent person is ridiculous. Sure, the folks who did the illegal recoding should be be indicted, but that is it. There are more serious issues than this and this young man CHOSE to participate in gay sex and CHOSE to kill himself. No one twisted his arm to do any of this.

  • Slipstream

    Response to Joshua

    It looks like you support criminalization of videotaping people in certain situations – but exactly what situations? There are video cameras EVERYWHERE now. People have them on their phones. You can buy one that is the size of deck of cards for $180. Where do you draw the lines? And back to Tyler Clementi for a second – has it been reported what exactly his roommate captured on video? Was it just him kissing another man? I didn’t hear anything about it being all-out sex.

    And on to your other point – no, of course I do not think that those scenarios you outlined are morally acceptable, and I do think that at least some of them should be and already are criminal behavior. But that does not negate my main point that people need to be able to fend for themselves to some extent, and that calling in some greater authority whenever there is a problem is not a healthy trend. I am not a bully, and in fact got bullied a bit when I was younger. It was painful, but I got through it – but I still do not believe that police, or school officials, or whatever authority figures are concerned should necessarily step in whenever there is a dispute of some kind. We are in danger of becoming a nation of crybabies, all rushing to claim victimhood, because we can see that there are benefits to doing so – attention, sympathy, punishment of our enemies, new legal rights, and money, to name a few.

  • KadeKo

    Okay, ‘sam’ and ‘SamT’ are so obviously different people. Nice job both of you: Covering your tracks, and also enrobing your screed of intolerance in media-friendly language. That’s soooo persuasive.

  • Nicole

    “…hope that will not result in a rush to judgement against those college kids…”

    Yes, heaven forbid we do something without thinking or considering all the possible future ramifications upon these two FINE young people.

    Tell us, how is it that we should take such care towards them in considering their missteps after they’ve just demonstrated a complete absence of such civility towards their peer?
    Have they not demonstrated to us by their actions that we should simply do what strikes us as entertaining for the moment, regardless of any effects?

    Intended or not, 2 adults – please excuse the unfortunately accurate use of the term – set in motion a chain of events that led, forseen or not, to a distraught person taking his life. Responsible adults would have the decency to be appalled, and to agonize over whether or not their actions might have contributed to the event, regardless, or perhaps even ESPECIALLY in the case of any pre-existing depressive state.

    The very absence of this sentiment among those “college students” that you would have us take such care with suggests exactly the type of character defect that is self- damning.
    Such people are entitled simply to honest representation– not contrived justification.

    And if that seems unfair, maybe they should have considered fairness before inviting the world to view another’s private life.

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    One aspect I don’t see being addressed:

    Over-sensitivity to the opinions of others.

    How can we raise children to have thicker skins? In this increasingly anti-privacy environment, the opportunity for humiliation expands enormously. While I think exposing this poor kid was a crime and deserves punishment, it wouldn’t have had the tragic consequences it did if the poor kid had been brought up to be ferociously proud of who he was and to scoff at the opinions of naysayers. The best defense against the jeers of society is not to give a damn about society … and it might just be the best way to conclude the culture wars in the liberals’ favor, as well.

  • Larz

    It seems like a very dangerous precedent to blame someone’s suicide on other people and not hold them responsible in any way for their own actions ..

    Given what was done may have been cruel in some way or an invasion of privacy, but as other seem to have pointed out, corporate america, the govt, police and so on seem to have little respect for privacy these days ..

  • Steve

    Its never a big deal until it happens to you.

Sep 18, 2014
Flickr/Steve Rhodes

After a summer of deadly clashes between Gaza and Israel, we talk to Jews on the left and right about the future of liberal Zionism. Some say it’s over.

Sep 18, 2014

Billionaires. We’ll look at the super super rich, and their global shaping of our world.

Sep 17, 2014
Bob Dylan and Victor Maymudes at "The Castle" in LA before the 1965 world tour. Lisa Law/The Archive Agency)

A new take on the life and music of Bob Dylan, from way inside the Dylan story. “Another Side of Bob Dylan.”

Sep 17, 2014
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson watches from the sidelines against the Oakland Raiders during the second half of a preseason NFL football game at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. (AP/Ann Heisenfelt)

The NFL’s Adrian Peterson and the emotional debate underway about how far is too far to go when it comes to disciplining children.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Talking Through The Issue Of Corporal Punishment For Kids
Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014

On Point dove into the debate over corporal punishment on Wednesday — as Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson faces charges in Texas after he allegedly hit his four-year-old son with a switch.

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Our Week In The Web: September 12, 2014
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

In which you had varied reactions to the prospect of a robotic spouse.

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Beverly Gooden on #WhyIStayed
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

Beverly Gooden — who originated the #WhyIStayed hashtag that has taken off across Twitter — joined us today for our discussion on domestic violence.

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